A public romance that was, literally, too good to be true—and one we all knew would end even while the couple lied to themselves about forever.  A suicide.  The inevitable public break up followed by threats of suicide that, again, we all recognized as a cry for attention from a former lover long before either of the ex-couple came out of their respective hazes.

Then a hit song, at the end of the year.  Thank U, Next.  And, frankly, the first Ariana Grande that I could listen to from start to finish.  More than that, I actually liked it.  It was about more than just a break up: It was a statement of freedom, a shedding of baggage, and a strong assertion of the right to be sick of someone and look forward to a new lover.

And now?  A full album of songs with the same kind of strength.  These aren’t love songs, these are RELATIONSHIP songs.  People you’re in love with but have to stay away from.  The guy who falls in love when she just wants a booty call.  The magic that fades when the fantasy guy turns out not to be all that.

A few years ago, Taylor Swift released a brilliant album: 1989.  Everything that came before and after left me cold, but that single record captured my attention with its transparency and brutal honesty.  This is Grande’s 1989.

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